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"Becoming Jane"New Austen movie (& more adaptations on the way)


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#31 bart

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:34 PM

Hmmm....it seems to me that Austenís heroes tend to be lacking in the charm department: charm of manner is not a striking quality in Darcy, Knightley, Edmund Bertram, or Wentworth, although they are attractive in other ways. Notable charm in Austen tends to be a sign of villainy or carelessness in men (though not necessarily in women; Elizabeth Bennet is arguably the most charming heroine in literature).

Good point, dirac. In addition, Austen's heroines (and their prospective mates) seem to possess integrity,sincerity, and the ability to see through false pretensions. This inevitably makes them somewhat uncomfortable with and skeptical about conventional social charm, ironic about it, and -- sooner or later -- subversive of it. What conventional society call "charming" all too often turns out to be false, deceptive, superficial, smug, and/or manipulative.

Oscar Wilde was speaking for conventional society when he wrote (more or less): One of the great charms of marriage is that it makes a life of deception necessary for both parties." Austen's value system is quite different. Maybe that's one of the qualities that makes her seem "modern" today.

#32 GWTW

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 05:24 AM

Oscar Wilde was speaking for conventional society when he wrote (more or less): One of the great charms of marriage is that it makes a life of deception necessary for both parties." Austen's value system is quite different. Maybe that's one of the qualities that makes her seem "modern" today.


Interesting comment, bart. I agree that Austen seems more contemporary than Wilde does, but I don't think it is the value system, but rather the stylistic qualities of Austen's work.
Actually if you strip Wilde's epigram (and I wasn't familiar with it before you wrote it here) of the 'nonsense', Wilde like Austen is saying that a successful marriage requires work. Of course, in those days, it was of great importance that a marriage work. There was no easy way out.

#33 bart

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 07:20 AM

Actually if you strip Wilde's epigram (and I wasn't familiar with it before you wrote it here) of the 'nonsense', Wilde like Austen is saying that a successful marriage requires work. Of course, in those days, it was of great importance that a marriage work. There was no easy way out.

Thanks for that insight, GWTW. I'm going to take another look at some Wilde with this in mind.

Ghastly thought: What if we reverse this? What would Austen's novels be like if she had some of Wilde's compulsve need to translate all human behavior into epigrams? :clapping:

#34 Ray

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:16 AM

Actually if you strip Wilde's epigram (and I wasn't familiar with it before you wrote it here) of the 'nonsense', Wilde like Austen is saying that a successful marriage requires work. Of course, in those days, it was of great importance that a marriage work. There was no easy way out.

Thanks for that insight, GWTW. I'm going to take another look at some Wilde with this in mind.

Ghastly thought: What if we reverse this? What would Austen's novels be like if she had some of Wilde's compulsve need to translate all human behavior into epigrams? :)


Well, to be fair to Wilde, he was perfectly capable of writing non-epigrammatic prose. Dorian Gray, for one! And I think Wilde might see this "translating" differently--i.e., remember his quip "life imitates art."

#35 bart

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 12:28 PM

Well, to be fair to Wilde, he was perfectly capable of writing non-epigrammatic prose. Dorian Gray, for one! And I think Wilde might see this "translating" differently--i.e., remember his quip "life imitates art."

Excellent points, Ray.

Wilde's prose, even in Dorian Gray, is the sort that once earned the label "lapidary." The reader has a sense that the author has worked hard at it, even though the lines flow out as though lubricated. It's prose that calls attention to itself and almost begs to be read aloud, possibly to a drawing-room audience.

In his plays, the humor that he derives from turning conventional expressions or values against themselves -- "Life imitates art," for instance, or "I can resist everything except temptation" -- says "look at me," although of course in manner that is worth looking at.

Austen also took great pains over her prose. But she also takes great pains to hide the effort. This creates, for me at least, a sense of naturalness, almost conversationality, all achieved in passages that are actually often quite formal and are very carefully constructed.

On the other hand, there are occasional bits in Austen that remind me just a little of Wilde. For example, Darcy's "I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle."


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